Vancouver Island Tech Comm Café: March 28 recap

Vancouver Island Tech Comm Café: March 28 recap

Victoria-area technical communicators came out thirsty for beer and conversation to Smiths Pub for the first quarterly Vancouver Island Tech Comm Café of 2018. It was a lively and free-flowing meeting where we got to know new people, settled on some topics for future meetings, and enjoyed some beer and socializing.

Introductions: Much of the evening focused on getting to know one another, since plenty of new faces came out for this event. We introduced ourselves, shared a bit about our work experience, and discussed our plans for the upcoming long weekend, including Easter dinner and egg hunts for our respective children. A good mix of experience was at the table, including seasoned veterans with well over a decade’s experience in the field, junior writers getting their feet wet, an “accidental tech writer,” and others transitioning from other communications specialties. A number of them are enrolled in Simon Fraser University’s online Technical Communication Certificate program.

Future topics: The formal agenda for this meeting was deliberately light: to survey potential topics for meetings over the rest of the year. We covered that ground quickly with short discussions about DITA, online portfolios, and chatbots. We all agreed that we need to know more about what makes a good online portfolio, and recognized that sometimes employer confidentiality is a barrier to sharing our best work.

The emerging technology behind chatbots means that none of us feel as current as we should be. One attendee is researching the use of chatbots in documentation. Many websites already feature automated help delivered in a conversational way, and Siri and Alexa are everywhere. We’ve come a long way since Microsoft Word’s Clippy. Ah, Clippy… good times.

We’ll carry these topics forward for more through discussion at our upcoming Tech Comm Cafés in 2018. (If you’re not on our mailing list and would like to be notified about future meetings, subscribe.)

Beer and socializing: With such a light agenda and such tasty beer, this meeting was much more a social than a professional event. The group got along well and made a night of it, with talk settling on the topics of travel and music. The globe was pretty much blanketed by the varied travels of the group. As the music got louder, talk moved from the deepening crisis in Venezuela, to cycling the length of Africa, to Radiohead’s best album.

Even though we didn’t slay any technical communication dragons, it was a wonderful night of sharing stories and connecting with colleagues.


The Tech Comm Café provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.

We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!

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